The more we know about prostate cancer, the better we can treat it. That’s why doctors at Regional Cancer Care Associates use something called the Gleason grading system. This system helps paint a clearer picture of how the cancer is going to behave and what types of treatment might work best for that individual patient.
How Prostate Cancer Is Categorized
When someone is diagnosed with prostate cancer, doctors perform a series of tests to collect as much information as possible. Those tests may include a digital rectal exam, an MRI, a CT scan, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, a transrectal ultrasound and a biopsy. Based on the results of these tests, the cancer is then assigned a stage and a grade.
The stage, such as Stage I or Stage IV cancer, tells us where the cancer is located inside the body. The grade, however, tells us how aggressive the prostate cancer is. The scores are divided as follows:
- Low risk (grades 2-6): Unlikely to grow or spread
- Medium risk (grade 7): Likely to spread in a few years
- High risk (grades 8-10): Likely to spread at a rapid pace
Understanding the Gleason Grading System
To determine a patient’s Gleason score, a sample of their prostate cancer is collected during a biopsy. That sample is then studied under a microscope to figure out the cancer’s cellular composition. A pathologist picks out the two most common types of cell patterns and assigns each of them a grade 1 through 5, with 5 being the most mutated. Those two grades are then added together. The lowest possible score is a 2 and the highest possible score is a 10 – although in practice, the lowest score that is given is a 6.
What the Score Means for Prostate Cancer Patients
Doctors will use the Gleason score, combined with the stage and the results from the PSA and other tests, to evaluate a patient’s prognosis and create the best treatment plan possible. They’ll also consider the individual’s age, family history and overall health. While high-grade prostate cancer may be more difficult to treat, it just means that doctors and patients will have to fight back just as hard.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Center
Here at Regional Cancer Care Associates, oncologists are constantly looking for new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat prostate cancer. If you or a loved one is dealing with prostate cancer, make an appointment at your local RCCA office to get the best care available.